In today’s jam-packed life, couples often avoid small conflicts until they precipitate into the proverbial tinderbox. Disagreements that are seemingly mundane and innocuous ranging from disagreements about the helper to what school to send one’s kids to can all snowball into much larger issues, if not addressed appropriately. As per research conducted by the Gottman Institute, the average couple waits 6 years before seeking help, often until it’s too late.
While these smaller conflicts may themselves be the catalyst or the precipitator, as the case may be, the underlying mechanisms at play are often more severe. Over time in the relationship, as these disagreements continue to be brushed under the carpet, they breed resentment and can lead to significantly detrimental patterns in communication including high levels of criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and even points of contempt towards one another.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution or quick-fix, the root of it comes down to how the couple manages conflict, especially early in the relationship. Contrary to popular belief, the first step is to not avoid conflict. One should be cognizant to respond to their partner’s needs to discuss matters of importance to them and acknowledge that there may be differing viewpoints. While in the discussion, avoid devolving into criticism. Instead approach the matter with respect, positivity, and an aim to find a solution, and steer clear of assigning blame. In the argument, leave room for repair, and post the disagreement, work towards healing as soon as possible. Finally, if one starts to notice turbulence in the relationship, the Mantra is to seek help early.
Psychologist & Counsellor